Myth Buster:  "Content marketing is easy"

As a writer, there’s nothing that irritates me more than listening to people who can barely string a sentence together wax lyrical about how easy it is to produce content. Such claims display a fundamental ignorance of the talent and craftsmanship involved in copywriting and image and video production. Throwing together any old rubbish that just about makes sense may be easy, but creating quality, thoughtful content that serves a purpose (or often several at once) requires a skilled professional.  Continuing our Content Marketing Mythbuster Series, I'm going to look into this with more depth.

Get useful or go home

Content production, and in particular copywriting, requires time, dedication and a sound understanding of tone, style and target audience. It needs to engage the reader or viewer, reaffirming or challenging their beliefs or introducing them to an unfamiliar concept. One of, if not the, most important aims of content marketing is to provide useful information to the people you’re looking to convert. That means you have to present yourself as an authority in your field, whether it’s cookery or genetic engineering. If you don’t regularly produce fluent, persuasive, informative content, that authority begins to slip (or indeed, never even materialises) and you risk losing the trust of your customers.

Content is not KingContent is not king

It’s a phrase I’m sick of reading. Content is not king, communication is. To quote Bill Bernbach, “You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.” That’s the difference between content and communication: content is what you say, communication is how you say it, and the latter is more important. A decent content marketer will have considered how the content they have produced is going to be distributed and how each channel affects the style of communication.

Let’s imagine you’re pushing a new product. You wouldn’t just add a web page about it to your site listing its various attributes and hope for the best. You’d want that page to be compelling, to convince your consumer that this is a product they need in their life. You’d also want to reach as many of your customers as possible to tell them about it. Different customers choose to be communicated to differently – via email, social media, text message, direct mail, RSS feed – so your content needs to be designed to suit the channel through which it is being distributed.

That means if you start with a persuasive 600 word blog post about the great new product that your brilliant company designed, you have to cut that into a <140 character tweet that is going to make people want to read said blog post, or visit the site to take a look. It means you’ll have to think up a catchy opener and summarise the product’s USP in an email or text to the same end. Each piece of content needs to be worded specifically to capture an audience that is already bombarded with information from dozens of other sources, while hanging together as a campaign. Simple? Not so much.

Analyse this

Once you’ve created and distributed your content, it’s not a case of sitting back and watching your site visits stack up. Keeping things fresh is another challenge of content marketing and requires a good deal of analysis. Split testing isn’t difficult to do these days, and it’s necessary if you’re going to find out what works best for your consumers. Experimenting with headlines on email campaigns, text message or PPC ad wording, imagery or landing page layouts will provide valuable information about what your customers find useful or interesting. When you’ve tried a few things out, you’ll start to be able to produce better content that encourages sharing and discussion.

Content marketing, like every other discipline, needs to be carried out by dedicated professionals who understand their craft. Pick creative, adaptable people with the necessary skills and you’ll succeed. Pick the cheapest resource to hand and hope for the best, and you’ll fail.

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About Charli Carlton

Charli is head of content at Minerva Copywriting. When not producing great copy, she can usually be found daydreaming about exotic holiday destinations or in the pub with her mates.

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